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April, 2012 |

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HOME: Plastics get playful

Next time you’re having a backyard barbecue or going mod with some new furniture, thank science.

Your salad spinner’s made of the same sort of silicone rubber developed to make Neil Armstrong’s moon boot. And those acrylic salad bowls and patio chairs? World War II fighter pilots needed safer canopies, and Plexiglas was the answer.

Manufacturers of home goods are quick to adopt innovative materials and technology, and synthetics have long been a favorite. The newest ones are a designer’s delight: They’re malleable, strong, lightweight and take color easily.

The product range in colorful plastics is expanding, with great shapes and fun hues.

From a crafting standpoint, acrylics are easy to work with. Using heat, they can be stretched and molded without losing clarity, and joints are heat fused rather than glued or screwed, which makes a finished piece virtually seamless.

Two Palm Springs designers —- Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister —- run Art Style Innovation, a fun factory of whimsical takes on vintage and modern decor. The duo’s curvy acrylic vases and rippled bowls, done in neon hues, are decor dancing. Their playful acrylic bookends come in a variety of silhouettes including cats, roosters, dogs, flowers, even a pair of shapely female legs. You’ll find clear acrylic cube tables, too, in modern takes on classic architectural design. (, $35 and up)

Plexi-craft in New York stocks a wide array of furniture in crystal-clear acrylic. The material works well in small spaces —- entryways, boudoirs, small living rooms —- because it’s nearly invisible. The company will custom tint, however; designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz likes to use a milky white acrylic for an ethereal quality. (

Italian design powerhouse Kartell has frequently dominated the synthetic materials marketplace, with “wow” factor pieces such as Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost chair and Ferruccio Laviani’s Bourgie lamp. There’s a wide range of colorful transparent pieces in the company’s collection. (, from $73)

Kartell also has manufactured Starck’s Bubble chair, a cartoonishly scaled piece that looks like an oversize upholstered chair but is made entirely out of polyethylene. It’ll survive indoors or out, and comes in several shades including pale yellow, black and zinc white. (, $680)

There was a time when kitchen cupboards and drawers were full of boring basics. But today’s cook has a paintbox of hues available when buying mixing bowls, cooking tools and utensils. Whether it’s a Kitchenaid blender in hot pink or a set of Rachael Ray’s sunny orange cookware, there’s more color in good-quality, functional, synthetic-material gadgets than ever before.

Flexible silicone has fans in fashion, where accessories designers love its pliability, color friendliness and soft feel. The same characteristics make it big with kitchen and home designers, who also appreciate that it’s dishwasher-friendly. Sky-blue spatulas, tangerine whisks —- just about any kitchen tool can be found in a fun, friendly hue.

San Francisco-based Bkr makes a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve, in hip shades like Jet black, Rocket red, Julep teal and Space indigo. Bkr donates to cancer research as well as clean water projects in Africa. (, $28)

Lifefactory goes one step further in the category with not only an adult bottle, but baby bottles and sippy cups. The collection comes in cheerful hues like lemon, raspberry, lilac and spring green. (, $14.99 and up)

Target’s Room Essentials line has everything from colanders to mixing bowls in a rainbow of pink, turquoise, lime or blue heat-resistant synthetics. (, $7.99 and up)

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Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend Sandra Lee has plenty cooking

FOOD NETWORK star Sandra Lee has a lot on her plate these days.

Sure, there’s her new line of fun cookware for men, women and kids. But she’s also facing questions about marriage to longtime love Gov. Cuomo — and possibly cooking in the White House kitchen.

“I’d just like to entertain around this picnic table right now!” the radiant lifestyle guru told the Daily News.

The marriage inquiries aren’t coming from the media, but from Cuomo’s daughters: Michaela, Mariah and Cara. Like Brangelina’s kids, the girls are nudging the couple toward the altar.

Any news on that front?

“I just want to be happy,” Lee declared Friday, “and I want everybody I love to be happy, and that includes him.”

With her Sandra by Sandra Lee collection, available at Kmart and Sears, Lee

wants to bring fun back into the kitchen — and not just the one she shares with Cuomo in Westchester.

“Every day we can make special, or lighter, easier and happier, we should,” said Lee, who’s celebrating her 20th anniversary in the biz. “My job is to give women what they want in order to do that.”

That includes

bold red bowls festooned with white flowers, extra-deep fry pans, three-in-one utensils, and bake sale cupcake carriers.

Guys shouldn’t feel left out: there’s a blender with a spout like a keg, and an indoor/outdoor electric grill that is Lee’s top seller.

There’s even miniature cookware for kids — no doubt inspired by hours spent in the kitchen with Cuomo’s daughters.

Lee took control of her family’s household at age 12, cooking and cleaning for her four younger siblings on a food-stamp budget after her father went AWOL and her mother turned to drugs.

The host of two Food Network shows remains keenly aware of working mothers who are tight for money, time — or both.

“With ‘Money-Saving Meals,’ you invest the time and cook from scratch,” she said. “With ‘Semi-Homemade,’ you invest the money with convenience foods.”

Lee, 45, is now a full-fledged mogul. And she’s a lot prettier than Ronald Perelman or Sumner Redstone.

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How to Select Glassware For Your Registry

We’ve plated up some tips on selecting dinnerware for your wedding registry, but what about cocktail hour? Whether you prefer cocktails, wine, beer, or juicing, glassware is an important category to fill in your registry. Sure, you can go with the selection that your registry consultant recommends, but each couple has individual libation habits that don’t always fit the standard mold. Thankfully, it’s easy to concoct your ideal blend of glasses so long as you keep a few tips and considerations in mind. Ready to drink up? Just read on.


As the name suggests, glassware is made of glass (no way!), but think about your lifestyle needs before stocking your registry. Homes with children (or even cats who enjoy countertop exploration) might want to add some short acrylic tumblers to the mix. If you entertain frequently, consider highly durable glass that resists breaks, chips, and scratches, and can handle a cycle in the dishwasher.


Not every couple loves wine. If you and your honey prefer knocking back microbrews, ask your guests to stock you up on beer glasses for any occasion. Or if Mad Men inspires you to explore mixology, register for a suite of highballs, Old Fashioneds, specialty cocktail glasses, and essential tools to fill up your midcentury bar cart.

Of course, if you’re a dabbler in fine wines, go for classic stemware, but consider what you drink and when. A set of all-around glasses are great for weeknight dinners at home, but you can step it up to specialized glasses intended for Bordeaux, Chardonnay, Syrah, Riesling, and even Montrachet. And don’t forget Champagne flutes for celebrations!


Those stemless wine glasses sure looked sleek at the store, but once filled with a fine Burgundy, it does more tumbling than a tumbler. When shopping for glassware, don’t be afraid to ask the registry consultant to bring along a pitcher of water so you can see the goods in action. Fill a Champagne flute halfway, then feel the weight of it in your hand. Set it on a flat surface and see how well it withstands a little table jiggling. If it feels off balance or tips at the slightest bump, you’ll know how it will react in a real-life situation.


Like dinnerware, glassware comes in an endless variety of styles, so don’t assume you need to stick with classic shapes. Whether modern, architectural, traditional, stemmed, or stemless, your glassware reflects your personal style! So find what speaks to you and don’t be afraid to choose glasses that toast your individuality as a couple.

Source: Flickr User Dinner Series

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Bake Biscotti or Finish the Book?

I really, really want to make parmesan black pepper biscotti. But I also want to write more. My blog is seriously envying the amount of attention I am paying to my kitchen.

Here is my current dilemma: an editor has approached me about publishing a second edition of my book, How to Recognize Your Future Ex-Husband.

The book’s 2011 release coincided with the busiest time of the year for me in my other professional life, where I own and manage a busy communications company. I have a lot of anxiety about this, and when I feel anxious, all I can think about is cooking, not writing. Anyway, the editor would like me to write another 10,000 words. This isn’t an unreasonable request, but for some reason, I’m having trouble sinking in and hearing the voice — the one that steadily spoke to me as I churned out each section month after month. That voice was with me for a very long time — until now.

Perhaps that voice is being obscured by the clanging of pots and pans and other assorted sounds emanating from my orchestra of appliances. Frankly, any excuse to use my KitchenAid standing mixer is irresistible. Should I go to Whole Foods for ingredients to make a complex new banana bread that I just read about in Cook’s Illustrated? There’s also the raw cauliflower salad that would be perfect for what remains from this week’s Fresh Direct delivery; and we have all of those green olives, and a fresh bunch of Italian parsley.

When endlessly researching writing and book blogs last year, I came across Luisa Weiss’ The Wednesday Chef ( Luisa is a former cookbook editor, and Viking is about to publish her first book, My Berlin Kitchen: a Love Story (with Recipes). See, I’ve become entirely captivated by Luisa and her blog. One night I stayed up until the wee hours reading every single entry from 2005. I also like her blog because she lives in Berlin, and Berlin is now one of my two favorite places in the world (second only to Rome). If this weren’t enough, I then discovered (through Luisa’s blog) Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen ( Now, between the two of them, it has been impossible to redirect my energy out of my kitchen and into my writing. I’ve purchased more quarts of buttermilk in the last twelve months than I care to admit.

All of this is terribly inconvenient because before the editor requested the extra material, I began to write a film treatment of the book, and I am determined to have Patricia Clarkson play the therapist. The casting is crucial. While I could be swayed about my preference for Rebecca Hall as Ivy, the protagonist, I am absolutely set on Zach Galifianakis as Arthur, the burly, lapsed Orthodox-Jewish, Monty Python-loving, contempt-for-the-rest-of-humanity doctor and medical writer.

I believe that this is a story that Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, and Jennifer Westfeldt would all vie to direct.

Imagine a romance that doesn’t quite work out the way you expect, but helps pave the way for an even better tale, because the guy in the first story taught the girl everything she needed to know about recognizing those all-important signals like having a boyfriend who a) speaks to his mother only in Hungarian, b) tells his mother that his girlfriend is only half-Jewish before she even meets the girlfriend, and c) frequently expresses his derision for self-help books and the people who read them — knowing full well that his girlfriend is a long-time subscriber to therapy and those types of books.

Oh, and then there’s the food.

Ivy and Arthur use food to avoid the big issues in their lives. But they are both so interesting and funny, such good cooks and conversationalists, that this never occurs to them until they’ve moved in together and started a new life in a Hudson Valley suburb of New York City. After visiting every restaurant and café in town, one month before Passover, the relationship begins to disintegrate. They both shut down around sex and money. Not even a perfectly executed brisket or Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce can keep things together and they eventually break up. But then, something else happens that changes the story, but I can’t go into that because I haven’t yet finished the film treatment.

OK, I need to excuse myself because I have to pick up my bi-weekly delivery of organic produce and decide whether or not to use the escarole in a salad with blood oranges and avocado, or sauté it with garlic, crushed red pepper, and white canellini beans.

What would you do?

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An Evening with Jacques Pepin

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If you secretly imagine yourself as a humble genius of the French culinary oeuvre, tossing butter into skillets with gusto, let us tell you: Jacques Pepin is your guy. Not just because he’s French, is renowned as one of the world’s best teachers, or has penned over 25 cookbooks. The guy is a machine, and is just as charming as he is talented. Tonight, he’ll demo and serve a full dinner–with wine, bien sûr–and you’ll walk away with a signed copy of his latest musings.

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The Thrill of the Grill

The Thrill of the Grill

No one can turn down a barbecue.  Americans love to cook and they love to eat outdoors.  Increasingly, people are claiming the outdoors as an extension of the comforts and convenience of home.  Cooking and dining alfresco is more popular than ever before.  Whether it’s the fresh air, soaring coals, or a relaxed atmosphere, food just tastes better when it’s cooked outside.

The most coveted room in the house, the kitchen, has moved outside into the great outdoors.  Outdoor kitchens offer a perfect place to prepare meals without missing out on all the backyard and poolside fun.  

Like all outdoor spaces, an outdoor kitchen should have a style that matches its surroundings.  Its location should be convenient for entertaining and relaxing.  Extra space used for dining tables and chairs, or for a counter bar with seating where you can mingle with the chef while he’s concocting his favorite dish is important.  Dining areas outside need to be more generous than their counterparts inside.  Room for a table and chairs, plus space to move around easily is best.  Outdoor fireplaces should have plenty of space for comfortable seating and lounging for guests as well.  

Outdoor kitchens can be an a tremendous asset if they’re well planned and well equiped.

Choosing materials that withstand the weather, are durable, and shed water, is practical.  Weatherproof surfaces for counter tops and workspaces such as ceramic tile or granite, guarantees years of durability and good looks throughout the seasons.  These materials also add a sense of luxury to the outdoor kitchen. 

Cabinet storage is an important element to an outdoor kitchen.  Cabinets alleviate the need to bring out necessary cooking equipment and utensils from inside that are used outdoors.  Storage is a luxury in any space, but especially in the outdoor kitchen.  Preparing meals with everything at hand as you would in the kitchen inside your home makes good sense.  No need to leave the party and make trips into the house time and time again.

Barbecuing has gone high-tech.  And the market for barbecue grills is hot. “Consumers are grilling much more than burgers and chicken today – and they are looking for quality tools and a greater range of accessories to have the versatility to cook any meal on the outdoor grill,” said Trace Weskamp, Director of Accessories Product Development at Weber, the world’s leading manufacturer of outdoor gas and charcoal grills..  New smoking accessories are one of the areas of focus for Weber.  Some of these accessories includes smoking woods such as hickory, apple, mesquite, cherry, pecan or beech, depending on the chef’s choice of flavor.  Other new product lines are stainless steel smoker boxes which when placed on the cooking grates transforms any gas grill into a smoker.  I find the new Plancha Universal Griddle,  very interesting.  This flat top griddle enables grillers to cook a variety of dishes on the barbecue.  The Plancha features a slightly angled cooking surface, draining fats away from the food.  The cast-iron construction retains heat, while the porcelain-enameled surface resists sticking.

Spicy Italian outdoor kitchens whould likely feature an imported wood-fired pizza oven, perhaps from Naples.  They’re integrated into a wall, create amazing flavors, and retain heat very well.  You can cook other foods beside pizza in these ovens such as fresh veggies.



To cool things down, how about a swim-up bar with benches that have “zero-depth access” to give the impression you swam up from the beach, for an apres dinner beverage?  Chill after you grill, and watch a movie or catch a game on a pop-up plasma while “beaching” it.  And then there’s the swimming pool misting system that fogs for those special evenings when you want to create a certain mood while you take a dip.

By expanding indoor life outside, outdoor activities become a part of everyday existance.  Turning a blah backyard into a spectacular backyard kitchen where you can entertain, cook together, and have fun with family and friends, suddenly takes on a new and exciting dimension.  The outdoor kitchen is the perfect place for good food, good friends and great surroundings that can be enjoyed anytime of the year.  Now how would you like your steak cooked?

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Judge Black Satin Tools

Judge Black Satin Tools

An extension to the popular Judge Black Satin Kitchen Tools range, are 5 of the most commonly used tools redesigned to be used for non-stick pans.

Judge Cookware’s Black satin tools combine
all the strength and style of Judges popular range with non-stick pan-friendly
nylon ends. With comfortable handles and strong, but finely sculpted ends,
these tools should answer every kitchen need.

Dishwasher-safe, with hanging
loops for simple storage and endorsed by Judges 25 year guarantee, these are
the perfect products at the perfect price point.

See the full range here

To stock please contact Horwood on 0117 940 0000

Click here to find out more about:
Horwood Homewares

Information direct from Horwood Homewares click here to enquire


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